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Greetings from Baltimore!
I'm a self taught, amateur maker currently working on my 6th and 7th instruments. 
I appreciate and welcome all criticism.  Please let me know if I'm doing something wrong!

To start off, here are a couple DG copies that I've been slowly cranking out over the last year.. 

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Kochanski on the left and Vieuxtemps on the right..  1740-41 seems to be a sweet spot for Del Gesu's. 
The instruments from this year are all very unique in character without being to exaggerated. 

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The fiddle on the left has been treated with a horse manure/rabbit urine concoction and tanned for a week or so.  
I'm pretty happy with the color. 

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Here are a few more progress shots..

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I made the corner blocks too small on this mould.  I have since adjusted. 

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I started this instrument with the scroll for a change.. 

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You can make out the sap pocket patch in the following photos.. 

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I really like the shape of the Kochanski ff's.  I decided to keep them asymmetric. 

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The Vieuxtemps scroll is pretty meaty in size but similar in style. 

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Dremmel routing..

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My label!

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I left these plates untouched for a few months and they were warped pretty badly when I came back.  Unfortunately the edge consistency has suffered from 
sanding them down flat again.  

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I've also been working on a dark colophony varnish a la Hargrave.  I've been through several types of colophony and have been experimenting with cook times and temp.  
I think I've finally settled on something.  

Here are test strips from the most recent batch.. 

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The color seems to build up to a decent darkness in three layers.  It will look darker on tanned wood as well. 
I ended up using a bit of madder in the top layers of my last instrument to push it more into the reddish spectrum. 

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I enjoy looking at your work and impressed by people that make their own varnish. The horse manure and rabbit urine application doesnt sound too appealing to be laying my head upon several hours a day.  ;  )

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Looks good! :)

Where are you getting your urine from? Inquiring minds love to know these things...

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Ha!  By the time the concoction is applied there is no foul odor to speak of.
It's really not as gross as it sounds. 
In Baltimore we have a tradition of horse drawn produce sellers called Arabbers. 

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It's a pretty surreal experience to have one of these guys wander down your city street. 
I'm lucky enough to have a friend in the Arabber Preservation Society who allowed me to access the fresh stable dung.
This is the first experiment I've tried with the stuff but so far the results are pleasing.
 

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Thanks!  LOL...who knew? I thought you had to empty little rabbit urinals out...

This is much more convenient - if less exciting...^_^

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5 hours ago, DoorMouse said:

Here are a few more progress shots..

IMG_7318.JPG

I made the corner blocks too small on this mould.  I have since adjusted. 

IMG_7328.JPG

I started this instrument with the scroll for a change.. 

IMG_7381.JPG

You can make out the sap pocket patch in the following photos.. 

IMG_7403.jpgIMG_7409.jpgIMG_7410.JPG

I really like the shape of the Kochanski ff's.  I decided to keep them asymmetric. 

IMG_7411.JPGIMG_7429.JPG

The Vieuxtemps scroll is pretty meaty in size but similar in style. 

IMG_7441.jpg

Dremmel routing..

IMG_8025.JPG

My label!

IMG_8109.JPG

I left these plates untouched for a few months and they were warped pretty badly when I came back.  Unfortunately the edge consistency has suffered from 
sanding them down flat again.  

Why would you sand them flat?

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15 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Nice stuff James.  We're practically neighbors!  I live about 5 minutes outside the beltway.

-JIm 

Hello neighbor!  It's pretty nice to have a place like International VIolin right up the street.  
Maybe we could do shop visits sometime.  

 

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11 hours ago, Nick Allen said:

Why would you sand them flat?

This was an extreme case where wetting and clamping to a board wasn't doing the trick. 
 

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I'm pretty happy with the way the ground turned out.  
There is definitely some burning in on the end grain but nothing too obscene. 
I had to reheat the varnish and add more oil to get it to a workable consistency and I think having 
a high oil to resin ratio makes it dry very fast. 

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What's the everclear for?  do you use alcohol soluble resins?    I'm also curious how you hold the plates in the plate cradle,  some kind of clamps?   

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1 hour ago, DoorMouse said:

Hello neighbor!  It's pretty nice to have a place like International VIolin right up the street.  
Maybe we could do shop visits sometime.  

 

Definitely, I'll send you a PM.  Our experience with the same varnish (drying time) is a little different.  I imagine two cooks with the same recipe will not bring out same flavors.  Same is probably true for varnish. 

32 minutes ago, MikeC said:

What's the everclear for?  do you use alcohol soluble resins?    I'm also curious how you hold the plates in the plate cradle,  some kind of clamps?   

Drinking of course!  That's how how you get in the spirit of Del Gesu.  :P

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1 hour ago, DoorMouse said:

Hello neighbor!  It's pretty nice to have a place like International VIolin right up the street.  
Maybe we could do shop visits sometime.  

 

I plan on stopping down at Int'l Vn some time soon. We should get some lunch. 

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13 minutes ago, Nick Allen said:

I plan on stopping down at Int'l Vn some time soon. We should get some lunch. 

I’m in if can. Let me know when you know when you’re coming down. 

-Jim 

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2 hours ago, MikeC said:

What's the everclear for?  do you use alcohol soluble resins?    I'm also curious how you hold the plates in the plate cradle,  some kind of clamps?   

I've found that Everclear is the best stuff for both stripping failed varnish attempts and cleaning brushes.  
I was using Acetone and Turpentine for a bit and not only were the fumes unbearable but neither really worked as well. 
I have yet to try drinking the stuff.. considering what it can do to a violin I'm not sure I'd want it working on my insides!

The cradle is something I've been meaning to upgrade for some time.  I made it for my first violin and it doesn't really fit archings all that well.  
I use quickgrip clamps to secure to the table and catch the edge or corners of the plate so it doesn't slip out.  

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Here we are after padding out the second coat.  
I'm up to four coats now with madder added to the top coats for color.  More photos to come. 

I'm realizing I should have strained this varnish.  I'm having to scrape off small black flakes with my fingernail after it dries. 
I'm aiming to do some antiquing so hopefully it will all blend together in the end. 

IMG_8143.jpgIMG_8144.jpg

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Here is the wood I have picked out for my next instrument.
I'm planning on 'torrifying' it in the oven at 200°f for an hour or so and then letting it relax back to a stable humidity for a week or two. 
I've done some experimenting with small pieces and the process brings out some nice color throughout the wood. 
I'm interested in seeing what effects it has on tone as well. 

IMG_8137.jpg

I've been toying with overlaying outlines in Illustrator and I've found that Gasparo de Salo's 'Ole Bull' violin fits DG's outlines surprisingly well. 
It seems I could get away with just extending the top block on the form in the same manner that R Hargrave suggests DG may have done for
some of his longer instruments.  

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I'm a fan of the Brescian ff shapes.  The 'Ole Bull' ff's are fairly tame compared to some of the more elongated styles.  
I'm thinking this instrument will be a bit of a bastard with a DG or filius Andreae inspired head.  
I'm going to have fun with this one!

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